A Few Things

April 10, 2015

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Image and text by Gabrielle. I know Easter is over, but it’s still endless egg salad sandwiches at our house.

So this has been, and continues to be, a fun week. The official Design Mom Book publish date was Tuesday, and as I’ve mentioned, I had a big launch party that night that I can’t wait to tell you about. But there’s more. We shot a really good Olive Us episode today, and I have two book tour events in Utah tomorrow (see below)! Another thing that made me grin: Publisher’s Weekly gave my book a starred review — their highest rating! If you’d like to, you can read the review on the Amazon listing.

A huge thank you to everyone who has bought a book, or told a friend about it, or Instagrammed it, or left an Amazon review, or who came to my book party, or who is planning to come to an upcoming book party. I’m just so completely grateful for the support. Seriously. I can’t thank you enough.

Now about those events in Utah tomorrow. Are you coming? They’re going to be fantastic! First, I’ll be at Deseret Book near University Mall, (230 E University Parkway, Orem, UT 84058), from 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM. And the fabulous Alison Faulkner of The Alison Show will be there to quiz me on all my motherhood secrets! Then, I’ll be at the Fort Union Deseret Book from 2:00 to 3:30 PM with the always lovely Small Fry Ladies! Book signings, gift bags, treats, terrific discussions, and YOU are invited! I hope to see you there.

I need to be off to catch my flight to Utah, but before I head out, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share with you:

- Putting out fires with sound? Fantastic.

- Everyday racism.

- The next session of Language Hangouts with Haiti Partners is starting soon! It’s free to get involved and chatting with Haitian teens, helping them learn English, is really the coolest!

- Dove keeps knocking it out of the ballpark. This one about #choosebeautiful made me emotional and I can’t even pinpoint what it is exactly.

- Diverse emoji.

- Making the poor prove they’re worthy of government benefits.

- Amy Schumer is new-to-me, but I think I’m in love.

- Jimmy Carter on losing his religion for equality.

- Foraged Mother’s Day Boutonnieres.

- A campaign to put a woman’s face on the 20 dollar bill. Thoughts?

- One more Design Mom book mention, I LOVE this thoughtful review from A Practical Wedding.

I hope you have a fantastic weekend — and if you live in Utah, maybe I’ll see you! Either way, I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.

kisses,
Gabrielle

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Pop & Lolli Giveaway

April 9, 2015

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By Gabrielle.  

Here’s a happy giveaway! It’s sponsored by Pop & Lolli, and the prize is a $100 store credit, so you can pick out exactly what you want. Hooray!

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Pop & Lolli is all about Larger Than Life fabric wall decals. Their selection is outstanding! Tons of themes — trains, robots, mermaids, pirates, family trees, flowers, animals, and on, and on. The decals are colorful, beautifully designed, and offer major impact in a room.

alphabet animal wall decals create a castle wall decal

The designs I’m eyeing these days are the brand new Create-A-Castle, the Dinosaurs to Dragons, and the Animal Alphabet. And I always love the Sarah Jane designs as well. Made in the U.S.A., the decals (and wallpapers!) are removable, reusable and completely reposition-able — simply the BEST decals out there!

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Pop & Lolli’s chic wall art will transform any blank wall into a space that encourages imaginative play. Their decals would be darling in a playroom, classroom, child’s bedroom, or boring hallway. We’ve got Pop & Lolli’s colorful World Map decal in our family room — in fact, I need to show you photos of how great it looks. I’ll put a post on the schedule asap!

To enter, visit Pop & Lolli and leave a comment below — I’d love to hear which decals you want most! The winner will be announced on Tuesday. Good luck!

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Wedding Rings

April 8, 2015

Design Mom Wedding Rings

Image and photo by Gabrielle.

Last night was my Oakland book launch party! It was fantastic and I can’t wait to tell you all about it. But this post isn’t about that. It’s about wedding rings. Since I knew I would be signing books last night, and my hands would be out in front of people, making sure my nails were presentable was on my checklist for the evening. My current nail polish has been in place for over a week, but it’s a shellac manicure so luckily, it’s still looking good, and I didn’t have to make any changes. Which was great, because I wouldn’t have had time anyway. Hah!

But I realized about halfway through the signing that I wasn’t wearing my wedding rings. It wasn’t a huge surprise, because I don’t wear them on a day-to-day basis, but I like to put them on when I’m going out. I didn’t start out married life planning to not wear my wedding rings. Honestly, I never really gave wedding rings much thought. And I’ve never shopped for a wedding ring or learned anything about diamonds. Though I’m sure I just assumed I would wear one when I was married. But it turns out I don’t.

There are a few reasons. First, is fear of loss. My wedding rings previously belonged to my grandmother, Daisy Stanley, and I’m honored to own them. They’re pictured in the photo at top and I love them! But when I first started wearing them, I was always worried about losing them — specifically about having to tell her if I lost them. About a year into our marriage, during our senior year of college, we moved to Athens, Greece for a semester. And we ended up traveling around as much of Greece and the rest of Europe as possible. Traveling means staying in lots of different hostels and hotels and I was quite sure I would end up leaving the rings on a bathroom counter or nightstand as we rushed off to catch a train. So I picked up a simple silver band at an outdoor market, and wore it instead. And I kept Grandma’s rings safe at home.

The second reason, is because when I’m in the middle of a project that requires my hands (and I’m very often in the middle of one of those projects), having any jewelry on my hands bugs me. I think it has to do with hand washing. If I wash my hands with my rings on, then dry my hands, I get irritated by the feel of the water under the rings that the towel doesn’t quite reach. If I take my rings off to wash my hands, I’m quite likely to forget them, and the rings are at risk for being lost.

So, while I started out wearing my wedding rings, around the time we moved home from Greece and baby Ralph arrived, (and handwashing increased!), I wore rings less and less.

The third reason has something to do with my need to simplify my life as each child arrived. Somehow, when life was overwhelming during the newborn stages, jewelry became a burden instead of something fun. Unless it was a special occasion, I wouldn’t wear rings. And that has kind of become the norm. I can’t say I never wear my wedding rings or other rings at all. I have some really beautiful pieces, and at a conference, or on a date, or for a photoshoot, it’s fun to pick one (or several) out to wear. But 95% of the time, my fingers go jewelry-less.

The last reason I don’t wear my wedding rings daily is more of a subconscious resistance. I know the nature of wedding rings and the meaning around them has changed over the years, but it seems like there’s an underlying idea behind wedding rings of somehow being “bought” by a husband. Or that the size of the ring is supposed to prove the amount of love. Both ideas make me queasy in a bad way. The funny thing is, I’ve never looked at another woman who is wearing a ring and been even slightly bothered that the ring was a gift from her husband or partner. In fact, I like seeing people’s pretty wedding rings — it’s fun to see the different styles and hear the stories behind them. So clearly, this is just a personal hangup I apply to myself.

And now I’m curious. What’s your take on wedding jewelry? Do you have strong opinions about it? Did you pick out your own ring or did your partner? Do you have both an engagement ring plus a band? And if yes, do you wear them both?  Do you wear your wedding ring or other rings daily? If you’ve never married, but plan to someday, do you think you’ll wear one? I’d love to hear!

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By Gabrielle.

Camille Turpin and her husband designed their house for their children. With two of their children on the autism spectrum, they built as many stress-free learning and growing and social opportunities into their house as possible. When they had the chance to move to a place with more affordable housing, they doubled their floor space and designed a home where there’s a space for everything and everybody, and the daily occupational therapy that is so important to their kids, can happen without leaving the house.

I admire that they put resale value on the back burner in lieu of a house that works for them right now. Perhaps it’s a little different than how you may be living with your own…but again, it works. And that’s the important take-away from each of these tours, isn’t it? Figure out what works for your family, and run toward that.

I honestly think you’re going to leave this tour with at least four thoughts that make your day better. I know I did. Welcome, Cami!

Q: Please introduce us to your family!

A: Oh, how do I introduce our family? I am Cami. I grew up in Pleasant Grove, Utah in a family with seven children. My family goes in the same gender order as the VonTrapps of Sound of Music fame. My mom tried to get us to be a singing group, but we refused. That did not stop us from making our home basically the scene of a musical at any given time.

My husband Jake grew up in Oregon City, Oregon in a family with five kids. His mother grew up in my home town and his entire extended family still lives there, so it was his lifelong dream to find a girl from Pleasant Grove to marry. Good thing he thought I was cute! Incidentally, it was MY lifelong dream to marry someone from the Pacific Northwest, though I thought that meant I would get to LIVE in Oregon. No dice.

Inspiration overload, straight ahead!

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By Gabrielle. Photo by Seth Smoot, styled by Kendra Smoot for Design Mom.

Oh my goodness. I could not be more excited about tomorrow night. It’s my Book Launch Party here in Oakland!! And if you live in the Bay Area (or happen to be in town), consider this your official invitation.

I promise it will be lots of fun. We’ll be serving the cutest, yummiest cookies from my favorite Oakland pastry chef, and celebratory champagne (plus other sparkling beverages, of course). We’ll have a fun Q&A with my sister Jordan, and Q&A from the attendees too! And I’ll be camped out at a table ready to chat you up, sign books, and hand out gift bags.

Oh. Did I mention gift bags? We don’t have any idea how many people will drop by the party, but we’re prepping 75 gift bags, and we’ll give them out until we run out. I’m packaging them up today and they are adorable. If you’re curious, I’ll try to give some sneak peeks on Instagram as I work today.

Best of all, Ben Blair and the kids are coming to the party too! The whole family wants to get in on the celebration. Here are the details:

Tuesday, April 7th
6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Diesel, A Bookstore
5433 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618
510-653-9965

I hope to see you there!

P.S. — Diesel is in such a great spot, I highly recommend you come a little early so you can drop by some of the other fabulous stores nearby. One of my favorites is Atomic Garden, just a few doors down from the bookstore.

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A Few Things

April 3, 2015

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By Gabrielle. Photo by Amy Christie for Design Mom — egg dyeing tutorial here.

Hello, Friends! How are you? What’s been going on? It’s been a good week for me. Lots of fun work on the book tour. The gift bags are coming together beautifully, my publisher has booked the flights and hotels. It’s really happening! The book officially comes out on April 7th (next Tuesday), but it’s been shipping out from bookstores this week, and my inbox is full of the sweetest comments. Thank you, thank you! And speaking of my book, I’ve created a Design Mom Book tab in the navigation bar above — it goes to a page where you can find all the book info in one place. Like tour dates and resources.

I’m really looking forward to the weekend, but it’s going to be an odd one. Ben Blair is out of town — he’s presenting a paper at the Mormon Transhumanist Conference this morning (Go Ben!). And Ralph is also out of town. My mother invited all the 12 and older grandsons for a boys weekend at Grandpa and Grandmas house. Plus our local cousins, the Ferneys and Stanleys, are also traveling. So it will be a really unususal partial-family Easter for us. But Ben and Ralph arrive home Sunday evening, so hopefully we can do a special Easter dinner, or just get some family time before the holiday is over.

How about you? Any fun weekend plans? Do you celebrate Easter? Or Passover? Are you in the middle of Spring Break? Ours is next week! I can’t wait to hear about your plans, but before I hit publish, here are a few things I’ve been wanting to share with you:

- There are currently 1900 babies on the organ donation waitlist. This Instagram campaign #HowIDonateLife, is an easy and wonderful way to bring awareness to the pediatric organ donation situation.

- How not to raise a narcissist in 9 easy steps.

- My firends make the coolest things! Check out these lacing cards by Rachel of Handmade Charlotte. I have both sets (boy and girl) and they are truly adorable.

- And don’t miss this GORGEOUS scarf designed by my friend, Karen Walrond of Chookooloonks. Really stunning, and sales support literacy in developing countries.

- Am I the last person to hear about this story?

- I’ve got a really good $1000 Amex Giftcard Instagram Giveaway going on. It’s a loop giveaway with some really great bloggers, and it ends this weekend, so act fast.

- Mara & Danny just posted their Body & Soul Camps event site. Dibs on Equador in the fall!

- Why My Marriage is a Package Deal: Caring for a Sibling with Autism.

- How to write a thank you note.

- Confessions of moms throughout the world. Thoughts?

- My book launch party is this coming Tuesday, April 7th, at Diesel, a Bookstore in Oakland.  It starts at 6:00 PM. I’ll be signing books and giving out fun gift bags. Oh, and my sister, Jordan will be there to lead a little Q&A. Crossing my fingers you can make it!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Happy Passover! Happy Easter! I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.

kisses,
Gabrielle

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By Gabrielle. Freshly Picked B-A-N-A-N-A-S overalls are too cute.

Rachel wondered if my readers would be interested in her birth story as told by her husband, Ben, and I couldn’t answer yes fast enough! A home birth in France is interesting enough on its own, but hearing from the father’s perspective is quite endearing. I truly hope you enjoy hearing Ben’s side of the story.

Also, Rachel mentioned that home birth in France is borderline illegal and that very few families do it. So the fact that the Abbotts found a midwife in Brittany who would do it felt like a miracle. Yet another interesting aspect of this story! Enjoy, Friends.

It’s a Brittany baby!

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Two Books

April 2, 2015

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Photos and text by Gabrielle.

Yes, it’s true that I’m excited about my book and am probably talking about it way too much. But, happily, I’m also talking about other books as well. Two great ones arrived in the last couple of weeks. I love both and wanted to be sure to share them with you.

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First up, Hey Natalie Jean by Natalie Holbrook. I read this on a Friday evening at the end of a crazy week, and enjoyed every second of it. Natalie’s writing style is one of my favorites. She’s smart as a whip, extremely observant, charming as can be — and she’s witty too! The book is full of beautiful photos, and is a perfect little snapshot of someone who is living a life she loves. And it makes me love life too!

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If you’ve got someone in your life that is aching for a little more glamour in their every day, but doesn’t quite know how to go about it, gift them this volume as a handbook.

Oh. And the book was designed by one of my favorite graphic designers, Abby Clawson Low. It’s like icing on the cake.

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Next up, The Crossroads of Should and Must, by Elle Luna. I first heard about this book, and about Elle, at Alt Summit in January. It was right after Dallas Clayton’s talk, and I was told I must learn about Elle Luna, and I must bring her to Alt Summit as a speaker (which I totally want to do).

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This book is a kick in the pants for anyone wanting to follow a passion, but feeling like they are stuck doing what the “should” be doing. The book shares Elle’s story and give inspiring and practical advice.

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How about you, Friends? What have you been reading lately? Are you in a non-fiction or fiction phase? Or both? I’d love to hear!

P.S. — My book is one of Amazon’s Best of the Month in hobbies, crafts & home. It’s such a treat to see it get attention.

 

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By Gabrielle. Photos by Kristen Loken for Design Mom.

Today, I thought it would be fun to share another behind the scenes peek into making my book. But before I do that, I have some exciting news: my book is already stocked and shipping from Amazon!! The official publish date is April 7th, and that’s when you can officially find it in stores, but if book stores receive it early, they can set it out any time. Very exciting! Now back to the behind-the-scenes post.

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I’ll start with a bit of book making trivia. Books are made of 16-page signatures. Essentially, they are four sheets of paper, folded in half, which make 16 pages. Then, all those signatures are sewn or glued together to create the stiff spine of the book, after which the cover is added. (I’m completely simplifying here, in the hopes we can all picture this easily.) So, if you count up the pages of any book (not the page numbers, the actual pages), they’ll be divisible by 16.

Keep reading. Lots more ahead!

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By Gabrielle.

Maybe this tour should be titled Living With Grandkids, as it’s the story of Sheila Atchley, a doting and devoted artistic grandma who couldn’t have painted a better, more dream-come-true life for her family if she tried! Her thoughts are so full of love, happy faith, and optimism, and her ideas about raising children are generous and open-minded. Truthfully, she almost makes it sound easy. Or maybe she just inspires. Same thing, right?

All I know is that she makes me look forward to a stage I hadn’t really considered before, and that’s pretty sweet. Friends, please welcome Sheila!

Q: Please introduce us to your family!

A: My husband Tim and myself are empty nesters. We have been so, off and on for two years, but this year made it official as our youngest son Isaac became a United States Marine. (Oh, my momma’s heart! God bless our troops!)

We have four grown children: two very beautiful, very married identical twin daughters named Hannah and Sarah, and two very single, very handsome sons named Josiah and Isaac. We added two sons-in-law in one year, and the first of four grandchildren began arriving in December of 2010. The grands’ names are Timothy (four), Aidyn (two), Avery (ten months), and Susanna Joy (three months).

Our family is quite close, and passionately artsy. I’m a late-blooming artist. I affectionately call Tim my Renaissance Man. He can preach a pretty awesome sermon, play drums and guitar, he has a beautiful singing voice, can build almost anything, and is a budding photographer. We home-schooled each of our children from kindergarten through graduation, and each one of our kids learned to play a musical instrument growing up.

Our oldest son Josiah is a full-time musician. He is also the father of a beautiful little girl, and he stays busy paying his dues and playing his guitar and singing his originals (and a few covers) almost every night. One son-in-law, Jonathan Howe, is a full time, career fine-art artist. It blesses me every day to watch him support his little family with his beautiful oil paintings. Our other son-in-law is Justin. He’s awesome because he’s our token left-brained guy – the only one in the family! He’s the one with the master’s degree in math education.

So much loveliness, straight ahead!

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Pipsticks Giveaway

March 30, 2015

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By Gabrielle.

This is fun! I’ve got a new sidebar sponsor called Pipsticks, and today I’m hosting their first Design Mom Giveaway. The prize is a 6-Month Pipsticks Gift Subscription! I know you (and your kids!) will love it.

Pipsticks Sticker Subscriptions Pipsticks Sticker Subscriptions

Do you know Pipsticks? They’re a New York based company committed to bringing the awesomeness of stickers to everyone, in a fun, affordable, and gorgeous package. Remember collecting stickers as a kid? Did you have a sticker book? I sure did. Well, now you can bring that same sticker magic to your kids, through Pipsticks’ sticker subscriptions.

On the 1st of each month, a package full of awesomeness will be shipped to you. What’s in the package? At least 15 sheets of different stickers (puffy ones, sparkly ones, sniffy ones) as well as a few crafty additions to keep you inspired and keep the little subscribers from sticking where they’re not wanted.

Not ready to subscribe, and want to take Pipsticks for a test drive first? Then you can try their Taster Pack.

Pipsticks Sticker Subscriptions Pipsticks Sticker Subscriptions

I love the whole idea of this company. Stickers and kids are such a good fit together. Stickers are visual, tactile, and they keep little hands busy for hours. I think a sticker subscription would make the best gift!

And hey, even if you don’t win, here’s something fun for everyone: Pipsticks now offers adorable printables! They are simple and good-looking and the perfect backdrop for stickers. They’ve got printable incentive charts which are versatile and cute – appropriate for all ages and cute enough to hang on your fridge. Plus, placemats and sticker matchbooks as well.

To enter, visit Pipsticks and leave a comment below. I’d love to hear if you were a sticker collector as a kid! The winner will be announced on Thursday. Good luck!

——

Kiley is the lucky winner! Thanks for playing.

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Planking

March 30, 2015

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Image and text by Gabrielle.

I came across this article talking about how planks are the latest fad, and it caught my eye, because Ben Blair is a total planking advocate! He gets the whole family planking whenever we have a spare few minutes. That’s Betty, above, doing a little planking before school this morning. Planking is also part of Maude’s workouts for cross-country and track & field — she holds the planking record in the family.

As I’ve mentioned before, I have a hard time embracing exercise routines, but planking seems to be a good fit for me. I like it for several reasons. First, because it goes fast. I can only do about a minute and half so far, and it feels brutal for that minute and a half! But, it’s only a minute and a half. So it’s endurable.

Second, I really like that you can feel the effects, even after just a minute or so. If I plank in the morning, my muscles remind me for the rest of the day.

Third, I’m amazed at how many different muscles get a workout from that one simple exercise!

Fourth, I love that the whole family can participate together. It doesn’t take any particular skill level or strength level or lessons, so everyone can get in on the fun, and no one feels left out. It’s one of those activities where the kids can best the adults (which is always a treat for kids!).

And lastly, I think I like it best because I don’t have to change into work out gear — which means I can participate spontaneously, whenever I think of it or have a break in my schedule.

I can’t pretend it’s a full workout, but I’m trying to pat myself on the back for at least attempting to work some strength-training into my day. : )

How about you? What are your latest exercise successes? Do you have a workout that’s working for you these days? Have you ever tried planking? (If not, go for it! Step away from your computer and give it a try. It’ll go fast, I promise!)

P.S. — Here are some tips to help you hold a plank longer.

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A Few Things

March 27, 2015

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By Gabrielle. Photo by Kristen Loken.

Hello, Friends! How are you? Was it a good week? For me, its been really, really fun, because advance copies of my book started to arrive at reviewers’ homes this week, and a whole bunch of really lovely mentions have popped up on Instagram. I’m tagging them #designmombook if you’d like to check them out.

The other big happenings at our house this weekend are that Oscar gets back from a school camp today (can not wait to give him a gigantic hug!), and Ben Blair flew to Colorado this morning for the wedding of our nephew Justin. Of course I’m super jealous that I’m missing out on hanging with the amazing Blair clan, but in happier news, it’s a quick trip and Ben will get home tomorrow (can not wait to give him a gigantic hug, too!). How about you? Anything fun going on?

Before I check out for the weekend, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share:

- Supertide at Mont St. Michel. I wish I was there! I love that place.

- Yes there are f-words, but it’s worth it I promise.

- Tom Hanks reenacts all his films.

- ”Yoga pants are ruining women.” Thoughts on this interview?

Gigantic bubbles! I never tire of these. Giant bubbles was one of the go-to science fair projects for my siblings. I don’t remember what sort of thesis was involved, but who cares, because GIANT BUBBLES.

- There’s a lot to be learned from Tim Gunn.

Sorry Babe, You’re a Feminist. Funny? Or Does it bug you? (Use headphones for this one around the kiddos.) Thanks, Sarah.

- Why the greatest minds take long walks.

- Blind spots and Woody Allen.

- Blog reviews of my book have started coming in! The first is from Cool Mom Picks, and the second is from Boston Mamas. Both are friends and their reviews are so kind. Thank you, Christine & Liz! Oh. And I just saw this one from Esther at Babyccinno Kids. It’s so sweet I teared up. : )

I hope you have a fabulous weekend. I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.

kisses,
Gabrielle

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By Gabrielle. All photos taken by Kate.

Kate’s first letter to me included three short and sweet sentences, one of which was “I’m a hippie mom in Oregon who’s blind.” And my immediate thought was how in the world does she get through her day with two little ones? To add that she’s hearing impaired seems more than a little unfair, but trust me: you will not feel a smidge of sorry for this upbeat doer of a parent. (You will, however, mist up at her last few sentences. You can trust me on that!) Her positivity is contagious. I admire her so, so much, and I know you will, too.

Friends, it is with such pride that I introduce you to Kate, my new hippie friend who taught me a thing or two today about life.

Q: Good morning! How did your family wake up?

A: Toby has school today; he is five and is in preschool every other weekday. Toby is curious, well-spoken and also a jabbermouth, and wonderfully intelligent; so much, that he seeks out and gathers only the brightest in his class around him. He’s also very decisive; when we offer him a decision, he rarely changes his mind.

I wake to a vibrating alarm clock. The vibrating part weaves under our fitted sheet and on top of the mattress on my side of the body pillow. My name is Kate. I’m a mom, and I’m also blind and hearing impaired. I can’t hear a radio or a buzzing or beeping noise, but I can hear a vibrating thing directly under my head. I also end up in the middle of the bed, right in between the two pillows, so for our entire married lives, we’ve used a body pillow for our heads. Just’In calls me a hippie: I have past-waist length hair, I use the no shampoo method to wash it, I am barefoot or in Vibram Five-Fingers very often, and I swish with coconut oil (inspired by Design Mom, of course!). I use Earthpaste on my teeth, aluminum-free deodorant, and a menstrual cup. If being a hippie is just personal product choice, then I’m perfectly fine with that label.

More from Kate’s day, straight ahead. Don’t miss a minute.

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Design Mom Goes Blonde

March 25, 2015

By Gabrielle. Video by Gusto at Life in DigitalPhotos by Matt Harrington.

If you’ve been following along on my hair saga, you may already know that right before Christmas this past December, I went blonde. Here’s a time lapse video that takes you from before to after. It was filmed on the first day I went lighter — an eight hour process that is condensed in this video to less than 2 minutes.

I had been wanting to try something totally new with my hair for months but had kind of stalled out, and when I found out my friend, the amazing hair stylist Rubi Jones, was coming to San Francisco, I jumped on the opportunity to make the change happen. Rubi knows the owner of the luxe Barrow Salon here in San Francisco, so she connected me with the salon and we set the whole thing up. In the video, you’ll see Barbara, the genius colorist, her lovely assistant Brigid, and hair guru Rubi Jones who cut and styled my hair at the end of the day.

Something else you’ll see in the video: me talking NON-STOP for a full 8 hours. Literally non-stop. They don’t call me Gabby for nothing. : )

I’ve been getting lots of questions about the blonde from neighbors, relatives and readers, so I thought it would be fun to answer some FAQs here.

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WHAT WAS THE PROCESS LIKE? IS YOUR HAIR SUPER DAMAGED?

In the video, you can see the first appointment. As I mentioned, it was long, like 8 hours. The bleach was applied on small sections, and foiled, and then my roots were bleached separately. And there were several toner sessions. My hair was remarkably undamaged at the end of it and Rubi only trimmed an inch or two.

Since this video was made, I’ve had two more color days, each with same colorist. At the second one, I was hoping for an all-over bleach that would take me platinum, but Barb’s expertise is focused on preserving hair quality as much as possible, and she really wanted to go more slowly to prevent damage, so she did highlights instead.

After trying out the highlights for several weeks, I decided they were definitely too subtle for me, so when I talked to Barb about the next appointment, I asked for no highlights, no foils, just all over bleach. And I wanted to let the bleach sit until I was platinum, even if that meant damage, and even if the damage required a big chop of my hair. So the third time I went in we got much closer to my goal. In fact, I would definitely describe my current color as platinum, though it’s still not quite the white-silver-blonde I’m aiming for. I think my roots are at the goal color, but my ends are still yellow gold. Those darn ends. They were filled with years of dark color and they are quite stubbornly holding on to the remains of it.

After the third appointment, my hair was definitely more damaged, (no surprise) and we cut off another few inches. But the hair quality still doesn’t feel bad, and after a blow-out looks much healthier and happier than I expected.

I think for the next appointment, I’ll do one of two things: 1) just get my roots done, add an all-over toner, and continue to enjoy this current color for awhile. Or 2) cut my hair closer to chin length, and do another all over bleaching session that hopefully takes me to the goal color of white-silver-blonde. We’ll see what happens!

Click here for more Q&A, and the answer to the question: Do blondes really have more fun?

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Family Dinner

March 24, 2015

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By Gabrielle. Photos by Kristen Loken for Design Mom. This post is sponsored by Blue Apron — get two meals free on your first order! See details below.

I wrote about Blue Apron a couple of times last year — I’m a total fan. And they’ve had a new development that I thought you’d love to hear about. They’re now offering a family plan! It’s designed to feed a family of four with full size portions, or a family of 5 or 6, with young kids who eat smaller portions. We had been ordering double boxes to get servings for four, and now everything comes in one box, which means less packaging and more simplicity. Thumbs up all around.

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Have you already heard of Blue Apron? If not, let me tell you, it is awesome. Essentially, it’s farm-fresh ingredients for chef-designed recipes, delivered to your door. No trips to the grocery store, and no extra ingredients, just the exact portions you need for each recipe. And speaking of recipes, an easy-t0-follow, photographic recipe card is included with each box.

Boxes arrive with three meals per week, and the price is $9.99 per person with always free shipping. Blue Apron is (hopefully!) available in your area, because it ships to over 80% of the country. They offer a large selection of recipes and they add new dishes to their menu every week — and you can access all the recipes online, even if you’re not a customer. I’ve been eyeing the Greek Sweet & Sour Stew and the Chicken & Drop Biscuit Casserole — I think my kids would love both.

If you’d like to give it a try, I’ve got an deal for you: The first 100 readers will get two meals off their first Blue Apron order FREE! Just click here.

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I also want to note, that I continue to be delighted by all the different ingredients that Blue Apron introduces to me. For the meal in these photos, Moroccan Root Vegetable Tagine, it was a new-to-me spice called Ras El Hanout. It smells sooooo good. Almost like a christmas-spice mix with some cumin. I don’t know how to describe it, but it was yum.

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Though it’s not necessarily the intention of Blue Apron, we always feel like their boxes include cooking lessons for the kids. When they help with Blue Apron dinner prep, they learn to cut different sorts of vegetables, and they learn how to prepare different sorts of grains than we might include in our standard family recipes.

Click here to see the finished meal!

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By Gabrielle.

This is a happy interview; I can tell Susan smiled and laughed the entire time she answered my questions, and I know you’re going to enjoy her earnest candor. This is an around-the-world family that has most recently moved from Florida to South West France, so you know they’ve experienced their share of cultural changes and shocks. But France is where they hope to call home for a very long time, and I’m so pleased Susan invited us in to show us around!

Welcome, Susan!

Q: Please introduce us to your family.

A: Hi! We are a slightly unconventional British family of seven. My husband, Roddy, grew up in several different countries, his one constant being boarding school in England. I, on the other hand, had a terribly normal childhood, growing up on the Isle of Wight, a small island six miles off the south coast of England. I lived in the same house all my life and I went to the same school all my life, I rode ponies, and was the original tomboy!

My husband and I met on the Island of Madeira in the middle of the Atlantic where he ran two charter fishing boats. I was there on a fishing holiday, a break from London life with some friends. To cut a long story short, we met, some years later we married, and then we had five children over the course of ten years.

Our eldest Izzi is now 18, and has just started at University in the UK. She is incredibly academic – where she gets her study ethic from, I have no idea! Our next daughter, Millie, has just had her 15th birthday. She is very artistic and has an insatiable appetite for life, is passionate about her chickens, and a really good tennis player.

Jack is our 12 year old son, the only boy in a house of girls. Roddy always jokes that he may not like it at the moment, but when he is older and they all start bringing friends home he will be delighted! He should also make extremely good boyfriend material, understanding the way girls think! He is already taller than me, loves cycling, and is intent on winning the Tour de France at some stage in the future.

Hetty is ten. She is all or nothing – either extremely loud or very quiet minding her own business – and there is no halfway house with Hetty! She is a thinker, and she would rather be on her own than be friends with someone just for the sake of being friends. However, once she is your friend you will be her friend for life. Georgina is eight; we call her our little Kiwi as she was born in New Zealand. She is the only one in a blue-eyed family to have green eyes and olive skin. Roddy always jokes that he is sure the French pool man was involved somewhere along the way! She is also the only one that is fearless, so thank goodness she is number five! If the first four had had her fearless attitude, we would be a very small family, I am sure!

Q: Where do you live, and how did your house become your home?

A: We live in South West France in the middle of a small village of 600 inhabitants; our nearest reasonably sized town of 25,000 people is about a ten minute drive away. We have lived here since last summer when we returned to France after living in Florida for four years.

Their family picture will make you smile!

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Book Tour Gift Bags

March 23, 2015

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By Gabrielle. Photo and styling by Seth & Kendra Smoot.

Hey, Friends. Do you run a small business and have a product you would love to share with Design Mom Readers? If yes, definitely let me know. I’m working on the gift bags for each book tour stop and I want to fill them with the most beautiful, wonderful goods out there!

Send me an email this week with a photo of what you’d like to add to the gift bag. If there’s any kind of label, or packaging, or note you want to include, make sure it’s in the photo too, so that I know exactly what you have in mind, then I’ll get in touch with details.

And just so you have an idea of what to expect for quantities, I’ll be prepping gift bags at nine different get togethers, and I’m planning on at least 75 bags for each stop. Depending on what sort of product you make, you might send enough for one book tour event, or for several. We can totally discuss options. As for timing, the first book tour stop is on April 7th (that’s coming up fast!), and they’ll go through May, and even into June.

I can’t wait to hear from you, and see what sort of awesome things you’re making these days!

P.S. — If you have a friend that you think would love to know about this opportunity, feel free to share!

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Kid-Friendly Family Room

March 23, 2015

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By Gabrielle. Photos by Matt Harrington for HomeGoods.

Last week I was in New York for a HomeGoods event called #MakeHomeYours, and I’ve been so excited to tell you all about it. It was a really cool challenge! HomeGoods asked three bloggers to each design a room using only items from their stores, rooms that reflected our own personal styles. Claire from Fashion Bomb Daily designed her dream bedroom. Jen from IHeart Organizing designed an ideal home office. And I designed a colorful, kid-friendly family room.

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Designing a family room that is both totally welcoming to kids, but also appealing to adults, and that works, is right up my alley. I think about how to achieve that sort of thing in my own house all the time. So I LOVED this project. And of course, sourcing everything from HomeGoods was also super fun, because their stock changes frequently, and also changes from store to store, so I never know what surprises I’ll find when I stop by.

With the exception of a few small personal touches (which each blogger was asked to add to their room), every single thing in this space is from HomeGoods. Really, truly. The artwork. The chairs. The coffee table. The ceramics. The throw pillows. The geodes. Even the giant stuffed animals! I’m going to point out some of my favorite parts:

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First up, I love the industrial looking console for two reasons. One, because I’m instantly drawn to anything with a vintage industrial feel, and two, because I find pieces like this to be super family-friendly. If this table gets a scratch or dent, who cares? It just adds to the patina! (And hey, do you see my book there? It fit right into the room!)

Click here for the rest of the tour!

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A Few Things

March 20, 2015

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By Gabrielle. Image of little me with my big sisters all dressed up for Easter!

Hello, Friends! How are you? Did you have a good week? Mine sped by like lighting. I flew to New York on Sunday, worked like crazy from early morning till late night on Monday, then flew home last evening. And as I mentioned, one of the most exciting parts was getting to hold an actual, real copy of my book for the first time. I didn’t know it was going to be such an emotional moment, but I completely teared up! I tell you, that new book smell is pretty darn magical.

And speaking about the book, thank you so much for all the enthusiasm about the book tour! I seriously can not wait!! As the details come together, I get more and more and more excited.

But I must say, it feels really good to be back home. This weekend will be a lot of fun — Betty and Oscar are performing in their school’s variety show this evening, and I’ve got a couple of cool photo shoots on the schedule. How about you? Are you doing anything to mark the arrival of Spring? And does it feel like spring at all where you live? I know New York is scheduled for snow today — I flew back home before the storm hit!

I’m off to tackle my to-do list, but before I go, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share with you:

- More men named John run big companies than all women.

- Eclipse chasers. If I had a life list, seeing a total eclipse would be on it.

- Warmer weather means it’s time for white Vans! There are 3 I’m favoring this spring — classic canvas, leather perforated, and white-on-white checkerboard.

- Foliage Easter Eggs.

- How good parents miss child sexual abuse and 5 questions to change that.

- 25 Maps that explain the English language.

- This is tragic and sobering but important article by Nick Kristof about Angola, the deadliest country for kids. #povertyissexist

- How reintroducing wolves helped save Yellowstone.

- Wow! New Alzheimer’s treatment fully restores memory function.

- Do you agree? Every woman in every Pixar movie has the exact same face.

I hope you have a fantastic weekend! I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.

kisses,
Gabrielle

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